The Illusion of the Asian American Dream

Asian Americans are often lauded as a “model minority” that has achieved complete acceptance into American society. But silent and pervasive racism has shown that American identity was never meant to include people who look like me.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF

Throughout Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), I have reflected on the stories I’ve heard about the deeply frustrating lack of visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While many Asian Americans are often referred to as “model minorities” whose stereotyped high achievements provide them a proxy to whiteness and American identity, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We continue to suffer from microaggressions, are still seen as perpetual foreigners, and have repeatedly been denied the ability to shine beyond the stereotypes of our communities — which were shaped by decades of American history and foreign policy. So on the last day of APAHM, I’m still thinking about why we are still striving to figure out where and how we fit into the fabric of this country. Because oftentimes, we have to fight just to be seen as American.

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Why NIFLA v. Becerra is a Watershed Moment for Women of Color

The U.S. Supreme Court building.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, NAPAWF

This week, as the Supreme Court begins hearing NIFLA v. Becerra, we need to remember what is at stake. This is a case that could redefine public accountability for organizations that provide false information or mislead women about their reproductive health options under the guise of religious freedom.

For years, fake women’s health centers have exploited women by masquerading as real health clinics, often locating next to real clinics, adopting nearly identical names, and even clothing their non-medical staff in scrubs – all to give the impression of being accredited health providers. The plaintiff in the case now before the Supreme Court, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), joins these fake women’s health centers in trying to overturn the Reproductive FACT Act – a commonsense California law which requires these storefront operations to explain that they are not a licensed medical facility and provide information on how to find one.

This law was enacted to curb the harm caused by fake health centers and reduce the delays in getting real care that women experience when they are duped by these blame-and-shame tactics. Women need accurate information about their options when it comes to pregnancy and family planning – not politically-motivated shame, coercion, or misinformation. We need to expose the truth about these fake centers before their lies endanger the health and safety of any more pregnant women – especially low-income pregnant women, women of color, and immigrants.

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It’s 2017 and AAPI Women Still Aren’t Getting Equal Pay for Equal Work | #AAPIEqualPay

Screen capture of video for AAPI Equal Pay Day. (Photo credit: NAPAWF)

Today is AAPI Equal Pay Day, a day to highlight the persistent wage gap experienced by AAPI women, transgender, and non-binary people. In fact, even though the AAPI community is the fastest-growing racial community in America, AAPI women continue to make only 85 cents to the dollar a White, non-Hispanic man of comparable education earns.

Over the course of a lifetime, that can translate to nearly half a million dollars in lost income for AAPI women compared to White male co-workers. In fact, an AAPI woman has to achieve a master’s degree or higher just to be paid the same wage as a White man who has earned a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, AAPI women must work on average an extra two months to receive the same annual income as a White man.

Average annual income for Asian American women and White men, compared to educational attainment. (Photo credit: NWLC)

When examining the in-race wage gap, the statistics are even more dire. Within the AAPI community, AAPI women make only about 80 cents to the dollar AAPI men earn. This translates to the largest in-group gender wage gap across all races or ethnicities.

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Appeals Court Dismisses NAACP & NAPAWF Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Racist Anti-Abortion Ban

racism-hurts-arizona

Earlier this year, I named the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) one of my Giving Tuesday Top 5 organizations for their tireless advocacy around racial justice and women’s rights. NAPAWF has been at the forefront of many key issues relevant to the the AANHPI community, chief among them reproductive rights. For years, NAPAWF has engaged in a state-by-state fight to protect our reprodictive rights (which is of particular importance for the AANHPI community) in part by challenging conservative efforts to rollback abortion access with overtly race-baiting bans on abortions if doctors find that the procedure is sought for reasons such as fetal sex. Despite the lack of any evidence that women are seeking such abortions in any significant numbers, these restrictions are passed on the basis of stereotyping of Black, Asian and immigrant parents as immoral and sexist. Further, these racist laws have received scant commentary or criticism from mainstream media or center-aisle Democrats.

Two years ago, NAPAWF joined forces with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit challenging one particularly vile and racist abortion ban in Arizona, which is noteworthy for its unusually explicit fear-mongering of Black and Asian women during debate that preceded passage of this as the first bill to ban race-selective abortion in addition to sex-selective abortion.

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Reappropriate’s Top 5 for #GivingTuesday 2015 (and This Year’s Master-List of AANHPI Non-Profits)

giving-tuesday-2015

This year marks the fourth annual Giving Tuesday, a national day to reject the crass consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #NotOneDime, a grassroots movement to boycott both consumer-based “holidays”,  is credited with a projected loss of $1 billion dollars in revenue this year compared to previous years. Instead, Giving Tuesday encourages charity and goodwill through small (or large) donations to any non-profit organizations.

Giving Tuesday typically publishes a database of non-profit organizations that will receive your donations, but I’ve found in the past that AANHPI were woefully underrepresented. So, for the last several years, I have published my own (long, but not comprehensive) list of quality AANHPI non-profit organizations to support for Giving Tuesday. This year is no exception: after the jump you’ll find 2015’s updated list of great AANHPI-focused non-profits.

Before we get to the full list, however I’m going to give you my personal top five picks for 2015. This is, of course, a tough list to make since I think every organization in the larger list deserves our charitable support.

Reappropriate’s 2015 Giving Tuesday Top 5:

  • CAAAV: Organizing Communities is one of my favourite local-level, community organizing non-profit groups. Founded in 1986 in response to a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes, the group has metamorphosed into a powerhouse for NYC-area community organizing, with a specific focus on interracial and interethnic coalition-building for fair housing and tenants’ rights. Not only does CAAAV do essential grassroots work, but I’m particularly struck by their unapologetic framing of their work as part of a larger fight to combat institutionalized anti-Blackness and anti-Asian racism.
  • APIA Vote is one of the nation’s foremost non-partisan AANHPI groups focused exclusively on civic engagement. The AANHPI community has notoriously low voter registration rates, and the mission of APIAVote is to do something about it. As the all-important 2016 presidential election approaches — and in a field where Rightwing xenophobia and (anti-Asian, among others) race-baiting is par for the course — APIAVote’s work is particularly necessary, and a donation to them right now will have enormous impact.
  • The Sikh Coalition  is one of several groups that have done stellar work this year highlighting instances of anti-South Asian (and, often, anti-Muslim) hate crimes, and advocating for victims and their families. I choose The Sikh Coalition for particular attention given how I have personally relied on their campaigns this year to keep me abreast of news on this front; other noteworthy groups also doing this work include SALDEF and SAALT.
  • NAPAWF is a national organization that focuses specifically on advocacy for AANHPI women, with one of their primary interest areas being reproductive rights. They have been very active in elevating the voices of AANHPI women in the current fight to defund Planned Parenthood, and even in the fierce urgency of the moment with regard to the fight to preserve abortion access, NAPAWF has done an excellent and necessary job injecting race into the national conversation.
  • Boggs Center was given a place of honour in my 2014 Giving Tuesday list, but I feel it necessary to once again include it in this year’s Top 5, in memory of Grace Lee Boggs whom we lost earlier this year. Boggs’ legacy of social justice and activism indelibly changed the modern Asian American Movement, and the Boggs Center continues to do important community work in the Detroit area.

I encourage you to make a Giving Tuesday donation this year to one or more of the listed organizations in this post. You can either join me in giving to one of my 2015 Giving Tuesday Top 5 (above), or you can pick any of your favourites from the larger list of equally deserving organizations (after the jump)!

Don’t see your favourite organization on the list? Please leave a comment to have it added!

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